Berkeley Wants To Buy Nine More Fossil-Fueled, 15-mpg Pickup Trucks… Just Say No!

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There’s still time to stop this purchase. Let’s avoid buying nine new vehicles that will keep emitting carbon for decades. Please contact your council member before Tuesday’s 6pm meeting and ask them not to approve this item (council@cityofberkeley.info, mayor@, manager@, rkesarwani@, cdavila@, bbartlett@, kharrison@, shahn@, swengraf@, rrobinson@, ldroste@)

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This is like buying ‘one last coal plant.’

Berkeley’s city council is being asked to approve the purchase of nine fossil-fueled pickup trucks on Tuesday night. These carbon-spewing trucks will be on the road for a decade or longer, during the crucial period we must decarbonize transportation globally to have a chance of saving our planet.

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Instead, we should wait for the arrival of numerous electric pickup trucks under development that will be zero-emission with equal or greater hauling and towing capabilities, and invest our vehicle replacement budget (and our kids’ future) in those.

Also: the ‘plugin hybrid conversion’ is greenwashing B.S.

The nine proposed fossil-fueled pickups are masquerading as a green purchase because they’re optionally upgradable (for $27,000 extra per truck) with a green-sounding ‘plug-in hybrid conversion’ technology from Detroit.

The new proposed trucks would get an embarrassing 15 miles per gallon and emit unknown but large quantities of carbon over their lifetimes (Ford won’t disclose exact numbers, but was sued in 2018 for rigging its diesel Super Duty pickup trucks to cover up emissions as high as 50 times the legal limit, says the LA Times).

The idea that bolting on a small electric motor would turn these trucks green is complete marketing and greenwashing B.S. If you read up on this plug-in upgrade technology, it increases fuel economy 25% (at best), with a 20% carbon emissions reduction. Compared to a fully-electric pickup, this is like buying an obsolete film camera and then paying big bucks to upgrade it to take a single digital picture. Not to mention that the battery pack for the proposed plug-in upgrade would take up a significant portion of the pickup bed.

It’s time for Berkeley to take a stand and be part of the solution.

One million gas and diesel guzzling pickup trucks are sold in the U.S. each year, making a wholesale transition to carbon-free vehicles next to impossible.

But Berkeley can be part of the solution by refusing to add another nine brand new fossil-fueled trucks to the road in 2020.

There are no villains here… just the inertia of doing what we’ve always done, which we must break. The city replaces its vehicles on a predetermined schedule as outlined in the biennial budget, planned in advance for several years:

Screenshot 2019-12-09 15.32.52I went to the corporation yard today and was told that we replace most of our pickup trucks every five years (after which they’re sold at auction). Here’s what’s due for replacement in 2020:

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Now’s the time to ask: “Can we squeeze another year or two out of our existing fleet, so we can replace them with electrics?”

I hope so… because that’s exactly what we need to do, if we’re serious about facing the global climate emergency.

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Pickup trucks at the City of Berkeley corporation yard on 12/9/19.